NLC sets July deadline for new minimum wage

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has insisted that the new minimum wage must come into effect in July this year.

President of Congress, Ayuba Wabba, who told The Guardian in an exclusive interview in Abuja, yesterday, added that Congress would reject any date that is beyond July.

Wabba highlighted that arrangements have been finalised to sign the agreement in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, this year.

He said: “Going by all the data submitted so far to the negotiation committee, we believe that a new wage is possible in July. Labour will reject any date that is beyond July and we have made that known to the government.”

The NLC chief also accused the Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, of seeking to sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, without consulting labour, manufacturers and the National Assembly.

He stated: “Admittedly a free trade agreement is not a customs union in the sense that Member States abolish only tariffs between them, while maintaining their own tariffs on third world countries, but this would already be impossible.

“Far from promoting regional integration of the continent, it will disintegrate it strongly in opening wide the doors to multinationals already well implemented in most African countries and which would concentrate their activities in the most competitive countries from which they would export to the others.”

Wabba explained that the trade agreement, which is being pushed by the European Union and World Trade Organisation (WTO), would damage Africa’s economy and promote massive unemployment.

On his part, the Executive Secretary of the Organisation Trade Union of West Africa (OTUWA), John Odah, while faulting the agreement, said only Nigeria and The Gambia and other few countries in the continent are yet to sign the document.

He added: “Indeed, the new acronym is a new one. The old one was the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) they have been pushing, which has failed. The agreement is a bad move for the labour and manufacturers in the continent and will further subject Africa to the negative effects of the neo-liberal policies on the West.”

Meanwhile, the Presidency has launched a discreet investigation into employment of 350 new staffers into the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.

The Guardian gathered in Abuja that the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, is leading the investigation.

The investigation team was also given the task of unraveling the alleged N200 million spent on staff induction and training approved by the minister.

A source said: “The presidency has directed that a team investigate the employment scam going on in NSITF. It was learnt that some senior members of the ministry got about 300 employment letters of senior new employees ready for distribution.

“The investigation team is also expected to examine the appropriation of N200million approved for the training and induction of staff.”

The time frame for the submission of the report was not made known yet as at the time of filing this report.

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